Has bedtime become a battle of the wills? This week’s Free Tip Tuesday has all of your need-to-know tips about how to tame your sassy toddler at bedtime.
The first step in toddler taming is setting up a family meeting, this will help everyone get on the same page and will manage expectations at night. This will make it so much easier when setting boundaries and then following through with them, which is the key to becoming the boss of the apple sauce.
Prior to the family meeting, discuss the boundaries with any other caregivers in the house, decide the structure of the bedtime routine and what possible sleep training methods you want to use. It’s important that everyone is in agreement and can implement the routine the same way each night. Consistency is absolutely the key to helping your child sleep well.
During The Family Meeting…
- Use visuals, pick stickers, colors, pictures and stick figures or family pictures that resonate with your child.
- Walk through the bedtime routine step-by-step. Keep it simple, teeth brushing, pjs, reading a book etc., and then show a visual of your toddler being put into bed
- Then, show them that they need to stay in bed all night. A tot clock is helpful for this piece if you have one. If not, explain that they need to keep their body in bed until you come to get them in the morning.
- If your child does get out of bed, either right away or in the middle of the night or the early morning, you need to have a behavioral response or sleep training method ready. For example, if you choose a gradual method like the silent return, you will go over that with your child.
- For the silent return, explain to them that if they leave, they will be walked back silently to the room and placed into bed. No talking, no tuck ins, no play time, a totally silent, zombie like return. The goal is to not reinforce their behavior.
- Be consistent. Stick with it or it won’t work! With this age, it truly is a battle of the wills, you have to outlast their behavior so they stop testing yours.
The more gradual approaches like the silent return can take up to 2 weeks and there are a variety of other methods that work more quickly and you can expect to see results in as few as 3-5 nights. For more information on other methods or if you have a toddler who is in a crib, contact us for a sleep plan!